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Radio 4 as an antidote to Twitter panel games

Wednesday 3 June 2009, 08:03

Jem Stone Jem Stone Editor, Social media and Syndication, BBC Radio

For the last few months there have been a rash of quite ancient comedy parlour games being adapted to Twitter where groups of friends devise, in 140 characters of course, punnery and wordplay around film and tv titles. Just in the last month credit crunch movies (eg: The Italian Jobless), medieval movies (eg: You've Got Chain Mail) have had their moment in the sun. In response a small group of Radio 4 fans including a lot of the Twitter regulars working here have had minutes of fun of an evening adapting these memes to our favourite national speech network; CreditCrunchRadio4 spawned for example the rather bleak The Pip. My best attempt at medievalradio4 was You and Your Serf (sorry). However none so far had generated more than a brief flurry of interest.

But then Radio 4 announcer; Kathy Clugston found herself on a train journey home yesterday evening was bored and tweeted this:

At first there was just a handful of top quality responses from some regular contributors , and a couple of lame attempts from yours truly and it looked it was time for bed and the shipping forecast as usual. However I work up this morning and there were incredibly nearly a thousand tweets of programme titles mostly containing boos, wees and lots more Tims. About midnight Radio 4's very own King of Twitter; Mitch Benn had joined in and gradually by the time all his legions of followers had picked up on it; Radio 4 - minus 1 letter, was in Twitter parlance, trending. So to avoid you doing the rather hard work of sifting through the tweet archive.

Our favourite 20 #radio4minus1letter tweets

higgis: A look at Judeo-Roman history through one woman's obsession with a charioteer: Woman's Hur #radio4minus1letter · View

richardberryuk: #radio4minus1letter - "lose ends" an invited panel have to find the end of the sellotape roll · View

MitchBenn: #radio4minus1letter Fedback- Roger Bolton tries to answer listeners' letters and emails but finds someone's done it already. · View

MitchBenn: #radio4minus1letter Loose Eds - Stourton, Mair and Reardon on a bender · View

SirTerence: I nominate this as winner @jamescridland Snooker-based comedy panel show: I'm Sorry I Haven't A Cue #radio4minus1letter · View

bopeepsheep: #radio4minus1letter Jus A Minute. Contestants have 60 seconds to produce a tasty gravy without repetition, deviation, hesitation, or Bisto. · View

dogzero: #radio4minus1letter "Road Casting House" - join American doctor, Hugh Laurie as he makes various highways using molds and plaster of paris · View

lesleypeal: #radio4minus1letter 'taking a stan' in which fergal keane talks to rap star m&m · View

jonnydollarUK: #radio4minus1letter Omens hour. A black cat and a man who once broke a mirror discuss the ides of March. · View

Jefy: "The NES quiz" Sandi Toksvig grills punt and dennis on game consoles that never quite caught on #radio4minus1letter · · View

jimh: The Shipping Forecat - a daily nautical report from a feline stowaway #radio4minus1letter · · View

mmechevrolet: #radio4minus1letter Just an inute - eskimos campaign for the correct spelling of their name · View

LordPlumpton: @Xanneroo #radio4minus1letter Tet Match Special, in which Henry Blofeld remembers the Vietnam war · · View

loveandgarbage: RT @Barc_alpha: #radio4minus1letter Geoffrey Boycott and Blowers travel supersonic in the world's fastest planes - Test Mach Special · · View

jimeasterbrook: @kathyclugston Arming Today. Making sure Humphries, Evans, et al are properly equipped for dealing with politicians. #radio4minus1letter · · View

JGONeill: @kathyclugston #Radio4minus1letter "Eek in Westminster", MPs open Daily Telegraph live on-air @thoroughlygood · · View

DanRebellato: @kathyclugston Mr Gemmell's footballing reminiscences. The Archie Hour. #radio4minus1letter · View

jasperparsnip: #radio4minus1letter Dow the line. Musings on American industrial averages. · View

rpudd: #radio4minus1letter Bok at Bedtime. Members of the South African rugby team read from their memoirs. · View

Now obviously this sort of japery wasn't invented yesterday. In fact this blog post is really a long way round of reminding you all that the true masters of this activity for over nearly 40 years no less. Are back! (Monday June 15th: 6.30pm) And not on Twitter. Well apart from him.

(Oh. A handful of the tweets online have a high innuendo factor. If the thought of what Samantha has got up to over the years offends then steer clear.)

Ok. If you're bored on the commute home tonight. mmm. #radio4plus1letter. That could be fun.

Jem Stone is Portfolio Executive for Social Media at BBC Audio & Music


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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue = 5 Stars

    Twitter Panel Games = 1 Star [and that's being generous...]

    And 'movies'. Are they a bit like 'films' then ?? Do tell.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    LBG, I don't think you can compare the two - both are very different beasts. Have you tried Twitter? I followed the #Radio4minus1letter tweets as they were happening and they were both inventive and hilarious.

    I like 'Clue' but by its very nature it is full of in-jokes and cliques which form part of its charm. In contrast, Twitter can be utterly inclusive and democratic; a joy of modern technology. Not to mention excellent discipline to limit messages to 140 chars.

    Besides, I'm sure when the new series of Clue starts, there will be a string of tweets contributing to #CheddarGorge, #UxbridgeEnglish etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    perfectsix - If one day, many moons from now, the joys of the written word have lost all meaning, they have stopped making films, no more music is being written and most human life on earth has been killed off by Gaia, then I might, just might, find life so unutterably dull that I am forced to descend to the vapid inanity which Twitter seems to be, but until that day...

    Still, posting replies on BBC blogs is probably not that much further up the food chain, so maybe I haven't gotten as far to fall as I'd like to think...

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    To #3: lordBeddGelert

    Maybe you have something in common with Socates who distrusted the written word:

    ""If men learn this, it will implant forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks." (from Plato's Phaedrus)"

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    RIP Humph.


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